Film makers from 30 countries and 23 states are set to gather together for an “unprecedented” event, the Branson International Film Festival, set for Thursday through Sunday at the Best Western Downtown Branson, as well as at the White House Theater.

“It is our second year of operation and we had a 24.5 percent growth over last year’s event,” said Deborah Watson, founder of the event. “It’s humbling and exciting to be a part of the new growth that is taking place in our community.”

According to a release, this event is perfect for “authors, playwrights, script writers, cinematographers, musicians, producers, directors, actors, actresses, students, movie buffs, and dreamers who have thought ‘I would like to do that.’ We want and need the local community to come and watch the films.”

“The audience voice is one of the reasons we create movies. It will be different than ‘going to the movies’ because with most of them, you’ll be able to meet the people who created them.”

The registration table opens Thursday at 3 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.​

Things kick off at 6 p.m. with a VIP Meet and Greet featuring guest performer, Irish musician Keith Harkin. According to Watson, she learned of Harkin while he was on tour with Celtic Thunder. 

“He’s like an Irish version of a modern-day Johnny Cash,” she said. “The stories he tells through his music are unforgettable.”

Opening for him will be Jeremy Miller, a local artist that also starred in the short film “Taneycomo,” which is currently running on parables.tv and 24flix.com.

The concert begins at 7 p.m.

Friday events get rolling at 8 a.m. at the White House Theatre’s West Wing with a workshop featuring Tricia Bartig, praise/worship leader, singer/songwriter, motivational

Bible teacher from St. Louis.

At 10 a.m., a workshop called Novelization hosted by Rene Gutteridge, will be held. Gutteridge is an award-winning and best-selling author of 24 multi-genre novels and is a seasoned collaborator in both fiction and film. She has novelized six screenplays and movies, including her newest, “Old Fashioned,” with writer/director Rik Swartzwelder. According to the website, this is perfect for “a seasoned writer or those wanting to become one.”

At 11 a.m., the “Investors vs. Partners” workshop kicks off. The workshop will be hosted by Mark Minnella, the founder and President of Integrity Investors, L.L.C., a company established to evaluate and design portfolios for discerning individuals, specializing in portfolio strategies that allow individuals to invest with integrity, aligning their investments with their individual values, principles, and Biblical Beliefs. 

After a brief noon lunch, the screening of movies will begin. The Best Western Downtown Conference Room will screen films from 12:30 until 8 p.m., while theater 1 at the White House Theatre’s West Wing will screen films from 12:30 until 8:05 p.m., and theater 2 at the White House screening from 12:30 until 4:35 p.m.

Saturday at 8 a.m., everyone will gather together at the White House Theater to see a prerecorded message from founder of the Hollywood Prayer Network, Karen Covell and her husband Jim, a composer from Los Angeles. Their vision is to encourage and build a movement of prayer through the international Church, in order to invite God to do a miraculous work in the global entertainment industry, through touching the hearts of the Christians in the media, the people who do not yet know Him, and the audience around the world. 

Karen Covell will be speaking on “Notes from a Hollywood Producer: Working in the secular entertainment Field and Engaging People in Prayer.”

From 8:30 - 11 a.m. Deanna Duggar and friends Barbara Fairchild and Melissa Leigh will be joining forces for a singer, songwriter, musician networking with filmmakers session featuring Jim Covell Music. The musicians tin attendance will have an opportunity to sign up for the music database that other filmmakers can have access to connect with you. 

All minors under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or music mentor.

The “Distribution- Are you ready to cross over?” workshop will begin at 11 a.m. featuring Isaac Hernandez, the man responsible for the acquisitions and scheduling of Christian movies for Parables TV and Upliftv. ​

After a brief lunch, the “​What’s my Role? Panel” with Randall Oliver, Chris Florence, Steven Brown, Debbie Sutcliffe gets going at 1 p.m. Guests can hear from industry professionals on what a person’s role in the industry is, from writing, producing, acting, and beyond. 

​In addition to the workshops and panels, several films will also be screened. Films will be screened from 12:30-9:10 p.m. at the Best Western Downtown Conference Room, from 2:15-9:20 p.m. at the White House Theater 1, and from 2:15-9:35 p.m. at the White House Theatre 2.

Sunday morning will see  Cameron “Camy” Arnett make an appearance at the festival’s Sunday Morning Worship Service. Folks may recognize his face from shows like “Miami Vice,” “Star Trek,” “Doogie Howser, MD” “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns,” or the new Kendrick brother film Overcomer.”

According to the website, organizers stated “it is with humble adoration we welcome to the festival Apostle Cameron Arnett and his team to include the anointed Shawn Collins. 

This service is free to attend.

Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. is a special VIP meeting. Following that meeting, organizers will announce the winners to their “Challenge 24” contest. All entries had 24 hours to write a 24 paged, compelling script. If they passed phase one of the competition, they were then given 24 days to work with only 24 people to develop their story that could not be more than 24 minutes long.

During this afternoon event, the submissions will be viewed and voted on by folks featuring Lucy Bloom, executive director of Veronica’s Voice in Kansas City,Kansas; Realtor and motivational speaker, Kathleen Forrest from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Singer, songwriter and motivational speaker Tammy Rodgers from Branson; Dr. Debra Peppers, a radio and TV talent, as well as a teacher and motivational speaker from Tampa, Florida.

Sunday evening at 7 p.m., an awards ceremony will conclude the event. The judges will have picked the top three in each category, as well as the top overall film of this years festival. Also, Joe Inman from Branson Gospel Radio will emcee the event, along with Watson. “After 6” attire is appropriate, but not required at this red carpet event. More details and tickets can be purchased at bransonfilmfestival.com. General public tickets available at bransonfilmfestival.com.

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